Iconic talker Rush Limbaugh has taken to the OpEd pages of the Wall Street Journal, noting that President Barack Obama has come out against the Fairness Doctrine but wondering if it will come back anyway in a masquerade. “Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as ‘local content,’ ‘diversity of ownership,’ and ‘public interest’ rules — all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?”
Limbaugh noted the resurgent AM band, which was withering away until the Fairness Doctrine was done away with in the 80s, allowed him to blaze a new trail with his own brand of political talk. He said that his experiment has grown into a 2,000 station talk-formatted universe, with multiple topics and languages in use, creating countless jobs and generating billions of dollars in revenue.
He concluded, “We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as ‘fairness’ and ‘balance’? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?”
RBR/TVBR observation: As we understand it, the local content, diversity of ownership and public interest rules Limbaugh cited are not an attempt to create a backdoor Doctrine.
The diversity plank is simply an attempt to bring license ownership more closely in line with US population demographics, and is generally supported by a wide variety of organizations including the NAB.
The first and third items are widely opposed by broadcasters, not because they are sneaky Fairness proxies, but because they would be useless, toothless exercises in paperwork.
Democrats in Congress can put this matter to rest allowing Republicans in Congress to send a bill to the White House for Obama’s signature – see this related story: "Legislators try again to head off Fairness."